Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1633 coureur de bois
Subjectcoureurs de bois fur trapper
Culture: French Canadian
Setting: New France 17-18thc

Context (Field Notes, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Horwood/Butts 1984 p51-52
"[T]he coureurs de bois, ... for the next hundred years [after 1633], continued to save New France from bankruptcy, despite the French government which continued to enact laws sentencing them to death.  Every coureur was officially an outlaw, trading illegally with the Indians and under threat of fines, imprisonment, flogging, or hanging if caught.  That's what the law made in France declared.  At Quebec, however, the law was rarely enforced.  At most a coureur might be hauled before a magistrate and sentenced to a small fine.  As one historian expressed it, the whole of New France conspired to protect them, because without them there would have been almost no fur trade.  Once the Hurons were effectively eliminated by the Iroquois, the flow of furs into Quebec and other towns along the St. Lawrence depended entirely on these outlaws who took their own canoes up the rivers of the north and west, into Lake Superior and even well beyond it, returning with the only product that kept New France solvent.
    "[...] At last, in 1700, the coureurs were given legal status by the French government.  They were then sent on missions down the Mississippi and out west as far as the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  They not only survived as a separate subculture in New France but survived even the conquest of New France and finally became the famous voyageurs who took Scottish fur traders from Montreal across Canada and beat Lewis and Clark to the Pacific Ocean by twelve years."